A Kobe Bryant statue outside of Staples Center is a given.
It will happen and an announcement could come soon because Los Angeles Lakers protocol is to unveil a statue when a former Lakers player enters the Hall of Fame. In his first year of Hall eligibility, Bryant is guaranteed enshrinement this year. That ceremony is scheduled for the last weekend in August.
Maybe because of the tragedy in which Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter accident, the Lakers will expedite a statue alongside Lakers greats Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West and longtime announcer Chick Hearn.
But what else could the Lakers and the NBA do to honor Bryant, whose numbers (24 and 8) already are retired by the franchise?
The Lakers likely will honor Bryant at their next scheduled home game, Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers, with a moment of silence. And probably a video montage.
But what about the rest of the season? And the Feb. 16 All-Star Game, which attracts so many eyeballs, just 2½ weeks away?
Some suggestions from USA TODAY Sports staff:
► Teams wear a KB patch with one of his numbers on it, or a similar patch, to commemorate Bryant for the remainder of the season.
► Name the Lakers’ court after Bryant – Kobe Bryant Court at Staples Center.
► Name the All-Star MVP award after Bryant, who won it four times, tied with Bob Pettit for most in history.
► To honor his No. 24, instead of four 12-minute quarters at the All-Star Game, the league could play two 24-minute halves.
► At the All-Star Game – and this has been suggested elsewhere, notably by Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated – players from one team wear No. 24 and players from the other team wear No. 8 while the captains (LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo) wear No. 2, the number Gianna wore.
► All-Star Weekend, perhaps before tip-off of Sunday’s game, is a perfect time for a video retrospective of Bryant’s career – that includes his most revered touchstone moments and accomplishments – interspersed with comments from players, Lakers executives who knew him well, celebrities, politicians and fans.
► The Bulls could also put a Bryant Lakers jersey on the Michael Jordan statue outside of United Center in Chicago during All-Star Weekend.
► The NBA could start a #kobe or #mamba hashtag, encouraging fans to share their memories on Twitter and Instagram. NBA would curate.
► The Basketball Hall of Fame could have a special Bryant exhibit ready when he is enshrined later this year.
► The league and teams donate to the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation which is “dedicated to improving the lives of youths and families in need.”
► Mark NBA basketballs with the Nos. 8 or 24.
► All teams could retire either No. 8 or No. 24, though several teams already have retired those numbers for other players.